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NYer Of The Week: Thomas 'Master Sabu' Lewis Humbly Shows Neighbors How To Be Strong

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This week's New Yorker is a neighborhood fixture for teaching students large and small how to be strong in more ways than one. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report, which was shot, written and edited by Rachel Smith.

For 15 years, Thomas Lewis has kept his doors open at the Humble School of Martial Arts in Clinton Hill. His students know him as Master Sabu, a man who will teach anyone, regardless of their ability to pay for a class.

"I have a weakness. I love people, and because I love people, my doors never really close," he says. "I will never turn anybody down."

"I started at a very young age, like around 9 years of age," says Dr. Gary Cameron-Xavier, the Humble School's health coordinator. "All of the martial arts programs that were existing were like, at the time, $100 a month, and my mother didn't have that. So he took me in, and money wasn't even an issue."

"He doesn't do it for money. He does it 'cause he cares about us," says student Inayah Nunez.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Master Sabu has studied martial arts since he was a teenager, eventually traveling the world to spar with some of the best. For him, kicking and punching is only the beginning.

Every class at the Humble dojo begins with a code of honor written by Master Sabu to give his students a different sort of strength.

"It reinforces you," he says. "It also gives you the power and the strength to move forward in the direction you need to go."

Lately, Master Sabu's path, and the future of the school, has become unclear. The neighborhood is getting more expensive, and the Humble School has to move.

"I can't imagine what it would be like for this community to not have him anymore," says student Rachel Black. "I can't even wrap my head around that."

Master Sabu is hoping to reopen the school somewhere in Brooklyn. When he does, the location will be the only change.

"My doors have always been open to everybody from three years old and up, all races, all genders," he says. "I close my doors on no one."

So, for humbly finding a way to show his neighbors how to be strong, Thomas "Master Sabu" Lewis is our New Yorker of the Week.

For More Information

For more information about the Humble School, visit their website at ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP